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Use Supervised Users to Set Up Parental Controls on a Chromebook (or Just in Chrome)

chrome-supervised-users-parental-controls

Google is now providing integrated parental controls in Chrome, allowing parents to control their kids’ Chrome browser usage. This feature works best on a Chromebook, where it allows you to lock down an entire user account.

Chrome calls its parental control solution “Supervised Users.” It works by allowing you to create separate Chrome user profiles for your kids and manage them from a single parent user account.

Enable Supervised Users

As of Chrome 31, the Supervised Users feature is still marked as beta and isn’t yet activated by default. However, it seems to work fairly well and we expect it to become available by default soon.

For now, you’ll have to enable it yourself. Open a new tab in Chrome and, type the following address into the location bar, and press enter:

chrome://flags

On the Flags page, scroll down to the Enable Supervised Users option and enable it. Relaunch Chrome when prompted and the Supervised Users feature will be available..

chrome-enable-supervised-users-beta-flag[4]

Log In With Your Own Parent Account

You can only use and manage Supervised Users account if they’re linked to a main parent account — that’s your account. Before setting up any Supervised Users, you should ensure you’re logged into Chrome (or your Chromebook) with your own Google account.

If you’re not sure what account you’re logged into with Chrome on the desktop, click the menu button and look for the “Signed in as” option to see who you’re logged in as.

sign-in-as-parent-google-account

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On a Chromebook, be sure you’re logged in as the Chromebook’s “owner” account. This will be the first user account you logged in with while setting up your Chromebook.

You can also disable guest browsing and restrict who can sign in from here. This will prevent your kids from using the guest account or logging in with another Google account to bypass the Supervised Browsing restrictions.

Create New Supervised User Accounts

You’ll now need to create one or more separate user accounts and mark them as Supervised Users. In Chrome for the desktop, open Chrome’s Settings screen from the menu and click the Add User button under Users. On a Chromebook, click the Add user option at the bottom-left corner of the login screen.

Create a new user account and select the option to make it a Supervised User account. You’ll see that it’s managed by your parent account.

chrome-create-supervised-user

If you’re using a Chromebook, you’ll be prompted to create a separate password for your child. Their entire user account will be locked down. Just sign out of the Chromebook and have them sign in from the login screen.

As of Chrome 31, the Supervised Users feature doesn’t offer a way to restrict Supervised Users from switching to your main, unprotected user profile on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Password-protection for users profiles should hopefully arrive soon, but you can’t rely on this feature too much until then. Of course, if your child has access to an entire unprotected Windows user account, they’ll be able to bypass the restrictions in other ways.

chrome-supervised-user

Manage Account Restrictions Online

To actually manage the account restrictions, you’ll need to visit Google’s management tool at chrome.com/manage. Sign in with the username and password you associated with your own parent account, not the one associated with the child account.

After signing in, you can modify the permissions for all your Supervised Users. You can also view their browsing activity and allow or deny any requests they’ve made to unblock websites.

chrome-supervised-users-management-console-page

When a user accesses a blocked site, they’ll see a “you need permission” screen. They’ll be able to click the Request permission button and any permission requests will appear on the management page. You can access this page from anywhere, so you could approve access to websites even if you’re not at home.

block-site-page-chrome-supervised-users


Parental controls aren’t perfect, but they can still be a valuable tool. This feature will of course work best on a Chromebook, where it allows you to lock down the entire device.

Enable Supervised Users on a Windows, Mac, or Linux desktop and you can’t restrict the user from leaving the Supervised Users profile. Even if you could, you’d still have to worry about everything going on outside of Chrome — for example, what if they try to browse via Internet Explorer?

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/23/13

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